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'Unusual,' record year for Wildlife Rehab Center included some rare patients

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The past year was an "unusual" one, the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center said – but also a record-breaker.

The Roseville-based, nonprofit animal hospital admitted 9,200 injured, orphaned or sick wild animals in 2014 – a record number – which made up 184 different species, it said in a news release.

Included in those thousands of patients were two first-ever creatures for the center: a Red-throated loon and a Rufous hummingbird.

The Red-throated loon – which had never been recorded in a Minnesota winter before – came through in February, after it was found walking down a snowy driveway in Isanti. The center's executive director, Phil Jenni, said it likely crash-landed while looking for open water; at the time, the Great Lakes were covered in a record amount of ice.

Nine months later, the center got another first-timer in the hummingbird (whose journey was well-documented).

The wayward bird (seen at left) was found in a backyard in St. Paul – when it should have been far south, not in cold Minnesota where food was no longer available – and eventually flown to Texas thanks to some volunteers. Jenni said there have been only 16 sightings of that species in Minnesota before, and none in the winter.

Trumpeter swans were frequent visitors to the center, about 50 percent more than were admitted in 2013. Many had either collided with power lines after being displaced from a frozen lake last winter, or had been shot, Jenni said.

“Many of these birds were brought to us by conservation officers who were pursuing cases against hunters who had illegally shot the swans,” he explained.

The center posted its first patient of 2015 on Facebook: a brown bat, discovered in a house in Minneapolis.

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